Apparently, Walmart takes great pride in its floors. They feel the clean and shiny pathways help enhance the shopper’s experience and get them to spend a bit more money in their stores.
Unfortunately, Walmart’s employees do not share the same enthusiasm. Cleaning the floors is a long and arduous task that can tie up employees for hours. According to the company, a human associate sits on a scrubbing machine for about two hours to help keep those aisles pristine. Often times, the employee does not do a good job and the floors are either left dirty or have to be re-cleaned.
Walmart’s Auto-C Floor Scrubbing Robot
In the never-ending quest for the world’s shiniest floors, Walmart has turned to a robot. Named Auto-C (short for Autonomous Cleaner), it uses assisted autonomous technology to clean and polish. Walmart has recently begun testing the new autonomous floor-scrubbing robot in 78 locations.
The robot is pretty easy for associates to operate. They bring the Auto-C to one of its designated start areas, choose a route on the touchscreen, and then put up the safety guards to ensure customers don’t jump in for a ride. Employees can also program custom maps and specify a cleaning schedule.
The robot is not completely autonomous as associates have to prep the area by doing some light sweeping and remove any objects that might get in the way. Walmart is still working on improving and adding more capabilities to the Auto-C.
Along with making their floors shiny, the company hopes the robot will free up human workers to do more important tasks like interacting with customers.
Walmart Tech. A Partner or Replacement?
After the initial testing, Walmart plans to send the Auto-C to at least 360 locations across the US. Recently, the company has been testing new tech to help their stores run smoother and cut down on labor costs. Shelf scanning technology is being evaluated in a small number of stores in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and California while automated mobile grocery carts are being tested in the Salem, New Hampshire location. The company is also looking into using artificial intelligence to spot angry customers and experimenting with virtual reality shopping.
Like many other companies, Walmart claims that bots like Auto-C are there to help not replace their human employees. But at the end of the day, it’s usually about the bottom line. If robots can do things cheaper and more efficiently, it’s only a matter of time before stores like Walmart cut down on human labor.
Hopefully, companies that employ a large number of people will see the bigger picture. Robots are great but they have one major disadvantage. They don’t spend money. Humans spend money. And for humans to spend money in places like Walmart they need to be employed. Tech benefits society the most when they are a partner, not a replacement.
Tell us what you think in the comments.